Last updated: 13 Oct 2023
The 54th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council (HRC54) took place in Geneva from 11 September to 13 October 2023. This page highlights the environmental-related activities of this session.
The 54th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council took place from 11 September to 13 October 2023. The Council proceedings can be viewed on UN TV. The meeting summaries are available on the UN Geneva website and the live-updated programme of work on Sched
Opening Session of HRC54
The 54th session of the Human Rights Council kicked off the five-week-long session in Geneva on 11 September 2023, where the environment featured prominently in the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk’s oral update on global situation of human rights.
Harking back to the core of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — 75 years after its adoption — the High Commissioner emphasized that the different rights do not have a separation nor a hierarchy. He reminded us that “All States have accepted their responsibility to realize all rights.”
Highlighting the human rights violations caused by climate change, as it pushes millions of people into famine, causes the destruction of homes and lives, he underscored the need for urgent action now. He said that there is the vital need for a shift to human rights economies that promote green solutions alongside the rapid, equitable phase-out of fossil fuels, and effectively financed human rights-based climate action – notably for adaptation, and to address loss and damage.
Accountability of businesses and people when it comes to environmental damage and destruction also featured in his oral update. He highlights that an international crime of ecocide has been proposed for inclusion in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court by a number of States and civil society groups.
In conclusion, let me stress again that the human rights cause in all its facets has the potential to unify us, at a time when we urgently need to come together to confront the existential challenges that face humanity. This is ultimately about building trust and restoring hope, including through the work of this Council. All of us need to play our part.
— Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Human Rights, Toxic Substances and Waste
Though integral to almost all sectors of society, the lack of environmentally sound management of chemicals and waste can have long-lasting negative impacts on human health, society, and on the environment. Such negative impacts violate our human right to live in a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. Human rights, toxic substances, and waste are discussed at the September session of the Human Rights Council.
The toxic impacts of some proposed climate change solutions
Deep reductions of greenhouse gas emissions are urgent to tackle the global climate crisis. Decarbonization of the energy matrix and polluting sectors of the economy are indispensable to realizing the goals set out in the Paris Agreement. Yet, some climate technologies proposed in recent years may aggravate the toxic burden on people and planet.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, Marcos Orellana, presents to the Council his annual thematic report (A/HRC/54/25), in which he examines the toxic impacts of some proposed climate change solutions.
“Decarbonization strategies must also pursue detoxification pathways. Ultimately, a just transition towards a safe climate system requires integrated solutions that do not attempt to solve one environmental and human rights crisis by creating or aggravating another.”
The report highlights that human rights should guide the integration of decarbonization and detoxification pathways, centered on non-discrimination, transparency, participation, and accountability. It also emphasizes the protection of vulnerable groups. With policies based on the best available climate and chemical science, guided by human rights principles, and the sound management of chemicals and waste, the transition towards a circular economy that is both chemically and climate-safe can be made possible.
Interactive Dialogue | Highlights
An interactive dialogue on the report with the Special Rapporteur took place on 19 September 2023.
"The toxic impact of certain climate solutions threatens to aggravate the toxic tide facing humanity."
— GENeva Environment Network (@GENetwork) September 19, 2023
“The toxic impact of certain climate solutions threatens to aggravate the toxic tide facing humanity.”
In the interactive dialogue, the Special Rapporteur made clear that decarbonization is imperative. However, certain technologies and strategies that present themselves as climate solutions continue to pose threats that aggravate the toxification of the planet and with it human rights violations, as they have no adequate lifecycle assessments or often fail to account for adverse impacts of hazardous substances. He provided examples:
- Rapid mining to decarbonize the energy matrix can cause water shortages and produce toxic mining wastes, which are exacerbated when governments waive environmental and social safeguards to accelerate such mining.
- Carbon capture and storage technologies have seen increased demand, but these rely on large amounts of chemicals and releases that affect nearby communities.
The Special Rapporteur underscored the importance of integrating decarbonization and detoxification strategies. Moreover, human rights principles should guide these solutions.
One such key principle is the Right to Science. This principle is however undermined by disinformation campaigns that push false or misleading climate solutions or that downplay the adverse human rights or toxic impacts of such technologies. not just by fossil fuels & chemicals industries, but by mining, nuclear, plastics & waste industries among others.
Climate action is indispensable and urgent. However, it is neither legitimate nor sustainable if it exacerbates toxic pollution and the concomitant human rights infringements.
To reach global climate mitigation goals, and at the same time, protect communities adversely affected by toxics, the Special Rapporteur shows that having decarbonization and detoxification integrated and guided by human rights principles places particular importance on protecting groups in vulnerable situations.
Reports on the Special Rapporteur Visits
Geneva Toxic-Free Talks
The Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights reports every fall to the Council and to the UN General Assembly on issues related to his mandate. The Geneva Toxic Free Talks aim to harness the opportunity of this moment of the year to reflect on the challenges posed by the production, use, and dissemination of toxics and on how Geneva contributes to bringing together the actors working in reversing the toxic tide.
On the sidelines of HRC54, this year’s Toxic Free Talks took place from 20 to 22 September — three days of conferences and discussions, highlighting the work of the Special Rapporteur and of organizations in the struggle for the right to live in a toxic-free environment.
Thank you and see you in 2024! pic.twitter.com/DaUMsdfXf5
— GENeva Environment Network (@GENetwork) September 22, 2023
Human Rights to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation
Water and sanitation are recognized by the United Nations as human rights, reflecting the fundamental nature of these basics in every person’s life. Water access, lack, and related activities are found to have an important gender dimension, with women and girls collectively spending 200 million hours collecting water, which affects their education and working lives as well as their health and safety.
Fulfilling the human rights of those living in poverty and restoring the health of aquatic ecosystems: two converging challenges
The 2 billion people without guaranteed access to safe drinking water are mostly not thirsty people without water in their living environment but extremely impoverished people whose access to safe drinking water depends on polluted or overexploited aquatic ecosystems, or who have no means of accessing available water, or both.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation presented his annual report (A/HRC/54/32) to the Council focusing on the problems of pollution, overexploitation and mismanagement of rivers, lakes, wetlands and aquifers, and their impacts on the human rights to drinking water and sanitation. In particular, it shows how the toxic contamination of water by heavy metals and other contaminants breaks not only the right to water but also the rights to health and life of millions of people.
Given the magnitude of the harm, the Special Rapporteur suggested starting a debate in the international community with a view to including these actions in the list of crimes against humanity in order to hold the perpetrators accountable.
The Special Rapporteur stated that the human rights to drinking water and sanitation and the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment go hand in hand with promoting climate change adaptation strategies to face the increasing risks of drought and floods that climate change causes.
Interactive Dialogue | Highlights
An interactive dialogue on the report with the Special Rapporteur took place on 14 September 2023.
#HRC54 now holds an interactive dialogue with @SRWatSan on his #HRC54 report that focuses on problems of pollution, overexploitation and mismanagement of aquatic ecosystems, and their impacts on the #humanrights to drinking #water and sanitation.
— GENeva Environment Network (@GENetwork) September 14, 2023
In the interactive dialogue, the Special Rapporteur emphasized the following:
- We are facing a paradoxical crisis: among the 2 billion people without access to clean and safe drinking water are impoverished people who live next to polluted & exploited aquatic ecosystems. He calls for water resource governance based on a human rights approach.
- As toxic contamination of aquatic ecosystems grows, protection of aquifers becomes necessary. The right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment, including aquatic ecosystems in good conditions, comes into convergence with the fulfillment of human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation.
- In the face of large-scale poisoning of water that has affected millions of people around the world, the Special Rapporteur also calls for beginning discussions on the inclusion of such actions as crimes against humanity and consideration of ecocide.
In response to questions from Member States and observers, the Special Rapporteur closes the dialogue with an urgent plea to react now to the toxification of aquatic ecosystems and safe drinking water, as millions continue to be affected by such human rights violations.
If I am contaminated with heavy metals at my age, it may not be so important, frankly. But millions of children contaminated from their earliest childhood and for their entire lives, and if we do nothing, it is not acceptable. Let’s react, I beg you. Let’s react right now.
Side Event | “Making Peace with Our Rivers”: The Importance of the Health of Aquatic Ecosystems to the Realization of the Human Right to Water, Taking a Gender Perspective
In line with the Special Rapporteur’s report, the Permanent Missions of Germany and Spain, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, and the Geneva Environment Network convened a side event to HRC54 to reflect on the thematic report presented by the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, taking a gender perspective, “Fulfilling the human rights of those living in poverty and restoring the health of aquatic ecosystems: two converging challenges”.
Reports on the Special Rapporteur Visits
Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Environment
Protecting 80% of the world’s biodiversity, indigenous peoples are inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to people and the environment. However, as they face discrimination due to their culture or attacked as they defend their rights, protecting their human rights is an indispensable element in protecting the environment.
Green financing – a just transition to protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples
Green financing is critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the targets set by UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreements and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, all of which will have significant impacts on Indigenous Peoples’ rights.
A ‘just transition’ addresses the social and environmental interventions and safeguards needed to secure Indigenous Peoples’ rights and livelihoods when economies shift to sustainable development practices to combat climate change and biodiversity loss. It ensures that those who are most affected by environmental harms do not bear the costs of this transition and are involved in the formation of policy solutions and participate equitably in emerging economic opportunities.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples will present his annual report (A/HRC/54/31) to the Council covering the role and potential impact on Indigenous Peoples’ rights of international climate finance mechanisms, the carbon credit and biodiversity credit markets, international conservation organizations and investors, international financial institutions and UN agencies financing green energy, sustainable development projects, REDD+ programmes and biodiversity targets. The report addresses how Indigenous Peoples’ rights are impacted by efforts to meet Nationally Determine Contributions and long-term climate and biodiversity protection targets, and updates and builds on the findings of previous work conducted by the mandate on the topic of climate finance, international investment agreements and protected areas, with a focus on the accountability of financial actors.
Interactive Dialogue | Highlights
An interactive dialogue on the report with the Special Rapporteur took place on 28 September 2023.
The #UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of #IndigenousPeoples, Francisco Calí Tzay, will be presenting his report to #HRC54 on Green Financing and ensuring that #JustTransition protects the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
— GENeva Environment Network (@GENetwork) September 28, 2023
In the interactive dialogue, the Special Rapporteur emphasized the following:
- Green financing has an important human rights dimension. A shift to green finance is necessary and urgent. If done using a human rights-based approach, it can be a source for Indigenous Peoples to obtain funding to preserve their plans, knowledge, and distinct ways of life.
- There are increasing reports that conservation and climate-oriented programs rarely include protection for the fundamental rights of Indigenous Peoples.
- Financial decision-makers have a crucial role in preventing these by demanding social and environmental safeguards and effective due diligence protocols to ensure participation before approving investments for green projects and programs. Actors in urgent green financing must recognize and uphold the rights of Indigenous Peoples, making them central in plans.
- Ensuring the participation and consent for projects affecting their lands is an obligation of States under international law. Businesses, corporations, and financial actors have similar responsibilities and obligations under international standards and national laws.
- A just green transition will require States and other financial actors must break down asymmetric power that continues to characterize aid and development financing. It must involve Indigenous Peoples, especially Indigenous women, in financial processes through accessible resources for land tenure or direct funding and ensure meaningful consultation
Reports on the Special Rapporteur Visits
Climate Change and Human Rights
Climate change is an existential threat for people and the planet. Its harmful effects undermine the full enjoyment and realization of all human rights, disproportionately affecting those who are already in vulnerable situations. Over the past years, the Human Rights Council took on resolutions and discussions on specific aspects of climate change, while Special Rapporteurs (SR) contributed with reports on specific thematic angles within their mandates.
Impact of new technologies intended for climate protection on the enjoyment of human rights
Addressing climate change is a daunting and urgent task for humanity. While drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate climate change is the cornerstone of the solution, scientists have acknowledged that complementary measures will be needed, due to the unavoidable residual emissions. This has brought increased attention to climate-altering technologies and measures (CATM), also known as geoengineering, which could remove residual emissions or counteract the disruptions and heating they cause.
While there is no doubt that climate change itself threatens the effective enjoyment of various human rights, it is equally important to consider the human rights implications of the measures that are to be implemented to address climate change. At its 48th session, the Human Rights Council adopted resolution 48/14, in which it requested the Advisory Committee to conduct a study and to prepare a report, in close cooperation with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change, on the impact of new technologies for climate protection on the enjoyment of human rights, and to submit the report to the Council in this session (A/HRC/54/47).
An interactive dialogue with the Advisory Committee took place on 28 September 2023.
Interactive Dialogue | Highlights
— GENeva Environment Network (@GENetwork) September 28, 2023
During the interactive dialogue, highlighted points include:
- A human rights-based approach would help to guarantee that State policies are not regressive in terms of human rights. The report concludes that new technologies aimed at protecting the climate interfere with the enjoyment of various human rights.
- There is currently a high degree of scientific uncertainty on how these new technologies are applied or their side effects. It is important to emphasize that the development of any technologies of this kind and drafting a policy to surround it will be out of step with existing protection standards for human rights.
- At this stage of the development of these geoengineering technologies, given that we lack sufficient knowledge on risks and potential adverse impacts, we should take the starting point the general presumption that these technologies are harmful to human rights.
- As a consequence, their rollout would contravene States’ obligations because they would hinder what should be the overarching goal of reducing emissions or introducing systemic changes.
- Human rights norms and obligations require that we adopt the precautionary approach and justify the establishment of a moratorium on these speculative technologies while the scientific uncertainties surrounding their impacts and use continue to exist and while there is a high risk of causing major and irreversible damage to environment and human beings.
Biennial panel discussion on youth and human rights: Young people’s engagement with climate change and global environmental decision-making processes
Young people are central to achieving a more sustainable and healthier planet. Though young people face discrimination and obstacles to the enjoyment of their rights by virtue of their age, youth have repeatedly demonstrated their willingness and capacity to address environmental and climatic challenges through innovative ideas, demanding policy- and decision-makers for bolder action through advocacy. Meaningful and effective inclusion of young people in environmental action and decision is not only a duty as they represent an important part of the demography and disproportionately bear the consequences of the triple planetary crisis; it is also a way to uphold and promote their rights.
In its resolution 51/17, the Human Rights Council decided to incorporate into its programme of work a biennial panel discussion on youth and human rights, fully accessible to persons with disabilities, to be held during the September session of the Council as of its fifty-fourth session. In the same resolution, the Council also decided that the theme of the panel discussion to be held at the fifty-fourth session would be young people’s engagement with climate change and global environmental decision-making processes.
Panel Discussion | Highlights
The biennial panel on #youth and #humanrights at #HRC54 will explore barriers young people face when engaging with climate and global environmental decision-making processes tackling #TriplePlanetaryCrisis.
— GENeva Environment Network (@GENetwork) September 26, 2023
During the interactive panel, panelists highlighted:
- Today, our world is home to the largest generation of young people in history, 1.8 billion. Yet this important portion of the world population faces multiple barriers when they seek to engage in global climate change and environmental decision-making processes.
- Despite the adverse impacts of climate change on the youth, very little space is created for youth to take part in the decision-making processes, or even when the space is given in the form of tokenism. Youth forums and conferences provide a ripe space for young people. But they should never be viewed in isolation from the mainstream. There must be a way for these to materialize into substantial outputs.
- Accountability, transparency, and honesty will come a long way in returning the lost faith in current systems and structures.
- Young people are neither a homogenous group nor a gender-neutral group. Any efforts aimed at fostering youth participation must consider the specific challenges and opportunities for Indigenous, afro-descendants, LGBTQ+, farmers, environmental human rights defenders, and rural young people.
- With unwavering conviction, we strongly urge the adoption of a youth resolution during the upcoming 6th session of the UN Environment Assembly in February 2024. This resolution should shed light on the indispensable roles young individuals assume in the advancement of environmental multilateralism
Right to Development and the Environment
Reinvigorating the right to development: A vision for the future
Appointed on 1 May 2023, the Special Rapporteur on the right to development, Surya Deva, outlines his vision for reinvigorating the right to development (A/HRC/54/27), highlights achievements in realizing this right over the years, identifies major current challenges for its full implementation and proposes strategies to overcome those challenges. The report also includes the Special Rapporteur’s goals and thematic priorities and describes his methods of work to discharge his mandate and engage all relevant stakeholders in an inclusive manner.
In the report, the Special Rapporteur highlights that an overarching principle of the right to development is intergenerational equity. As highlighted in the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action,
“The right to development must be fulfilled so as to meet equitably the developmental and environmental needs of present and future generations.”
The human right to development is strongly linked to the protection of the environment as the principle calls for addressing both the developmental and environmental needs of present and future generations and not a license to destroy the planetary ecosystem or undermine the ability of future generations to fulfill their development aspirations. Other links include the following:
- As stated in principle 5 (b) of the Maastricht Principles on the Human Rights of Future Generations, future generations are entitled to all individual and collective human rights, including the right to development and the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment.
- The principle of intergenerational equity, which is also acknowledged in the preamble of the Paris Agreement, is critical to ensure that the right to development contributes to inclusive, equitable, and sustainable development.
A challenge faced by the right to development is how it stems from a neocolonial and neoliberal economic order. The current model of development is neither inclusive nor sustainable: it is focused on cumulative economic development, does not ensure the participation of people, and ignores the planetary boundaries.
The Special Rapporteur highlights that in order to tackle the exploitation of people and the environment in past and present, the world needs a new model of planet-centred participatory development.
Putting the planet at the centre will ensure that the entire planetary ecosystem, comprising people, biodiversity and the environment, is protected and that the negative consequences of adopting an anthropocentric approach are minimized.
Interactive Dialogue | Highlights
An interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur took place on 20 September 2023.
The right to development reflects the collective dimension of human rights and embodies the practical application of the principle that human rights are indivisible, interdependent, and interrelated.
In his first report to the Council, the Special Rapporteur highlighted that is a human right that is relevant to everyone everywhere. It is a root of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, and preserves intergenerational equity.
The right remains unrealized for millions of people due to multiple challenges: conceptual confusion, limited capacities, polarization, lack of participation, inequalities, and the neo-colonial and neoliberal order. He also identified four overarching principles of the right to development: self-determination, intersectionality, intergenerational equity and fair distribution.
The current model of development is neither inclusive nor sustainable, the Special Rapporteur underscored. It is focused on cumulative economic development, does not ensure the participation of people, and ignores planetary boundaries.
The world therefore needs planet-centered and participative development. The right to development goes hand-in-hand with the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment.
As such, the Special Rapporteur calls for a holistic approach to the right to development because the right is not a license to destroy the planet or undermine the ability of future generations to realize their development aspirations. All this through the active, free, and inclusive participation of people — through a bottom-up approach.
Throughout his mandate, the Special Rapporteur will, through a consultative and evidence-based approach:
- Promote a holistic understanding of the right to development;
- Mainstream the right in governance mechanisms at all levels; and
- Bridge the political divide between Global North and Global South, in view of the right.
He will also focus on certain marginalized groups such as children and youth, women, migrants, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, and future generations.
22 August 2023 | 10:00 – 11:30 CEST | IEH1, Room 2 & Online, Webex
28 August 2023 | 10:00 – 18:00 CEST | Palais des Nations, Room XX & Online
11 September 2023 | 10:00 – 10:45 CEST | Palais des Nations, Room XX & Online
11 September 2023 | 15:00 – 16:00 CEST | Palais des Nations, Room XXV & Online
Brussels International Center for Research and Human Rights
14 September 2023 | 9:00 – 10:00 CEST | Palais des Nations, Room XX & Online
14 September 2023 | 15:00 – 17:00 CEST | Palais des Nations, Room XX & Online
Safeguarding the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation in India amidst Climate Emergency | Side Event
14 September 2023 | 17:00 – 18:00 CEST | Palais des Nations, Room XXV & Online
“Making Peace with Our Rivers”: The Importance of the Health of Aquatic Ecosystems to the Realization of the Human Right to Water, Taking a Gender Perspective
15 September 2023 | 9:00 – 10:00 CEST | Palais des Nations, Room XXV & Online
Germany, Spain, SR rights to water and sanitation & GEN
18 September 2023 | 12:00 – 13:00 CEST | Palais des Nations, Room XXV & Online
CIEL, FIAN & FES
Promoting the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas: the new resolution on the implementation of UNDROP in the Human Rights Council | Side Event
19 September 2023 | 12:00 – 13:00 CEST | Palais des Nations, Room XXV
19 September 2023 | 15:00 – 17:00 CEST | Palais des Nations, Room XX & Online
20 September 2023 | 9:00 – 10:00 CEST | Palais des Nations, Room H.307-1 & Online | Webex
SR toxics, Earthjustice & GEN
20 September 2023 | 12:00 – 13:00 CEST | Palais des Nations, Room XX & Online
20 September 2023 | 13:15 – 14:45 CEST | Palais des Nations, Room H.307-1 & Online | Webex
SR toxics, Earthjustice & GEN
20 September 2023 | 14:00 – 15:00 CEST | Palais des Nations, Room XXVII & Online
Morocco, Costa Rica & child rights connect
Peasants’, Rural Workers’ and Other Rural People’s Key Role in Safeguarding the Environment | Parallel Event
20 September 2023 | 18:00 – 19:30 CEST | Grand Salon, CAGI – La Pastorale
FIAN & Co-sponsors
21 September 2023 | 9:00 – 10:30 CEST | Palais des Nations, Room XXIV & Online
Mexico & Guatemala
No More Agrotoxics in our Food and Environment! | Agroecology: A Key Element for a Just Transition | Geneva Toxic Free Talks
21 September 2023 | 13:00 – 14:30 CEST | Palais des Nations, Room H.207 & Online | Webex
FIAN, SR toxics, Earthjustice & GEN
21 September 2023 | 15:30 – 16:00 CEST | Palais des Nations, Room H.207 & Online | Webex
SR toxics, Earthjustice & GEN
International Maritime Organization: Navigating the Rights Way | HRC54 Side Event / Geneva Toxic Free Talks
22 September 2023 | 10:00 – 11:00 CEST | Palais des Nations, Room XXV & Online | YouTube
SR toxics & Earthjustice
Integrating Detoxification and Decarbonization to Protect Human Rights of Affected Communities | HRC54 Side Event / Geneva Toxic Free Talks
22 September 2023 | 13:00 – 14:00 CEST | Palais des Nations, Room XXV & Online | YouTube
Chile, Philippines, Germany, GeCCco & SR toxics
Right to Science, Central to the Future Science-Policy Panel to Contribute Further to the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste and to Prevent Pollution | Geneva Toxic Free Talks
22 September 2023 | 15:00–16:00 CEST |
Palais des Nations, Room H.307-2 & Online | Webex
SR Toxics, Earthjustice, GEN
26 September 2023 | 10:00 – 12:00 CEST | Palais des Nations, Room XX & Online
26 September 2023 | 12:00 – 13:00 CEST | Palais des Nations, Room XXV
CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation
27 September 2023 | 16:00 – 18:00 CEST | Palais des Nations, Room XX & Online
28 September 2023 | 10:30 – 11:45 CEST | Palais des Nations, Room XX & Online
28 September 2023 | 11:45 – 13:15 & 15:00 – 15:30 CEST | Palais des Nations, Room XX & Online
28 September 2023 | 15:30 – 16:45 CEST | Palais des Nations, Room XX & Online
2 October 2023 | 16:00 – 17:00 CEST | Room XXV, Palais des Nations & Online
3 October 2023 | 14:00 – 15:00 CEST | Room XXV, Palais des Nations & Online
UAE, General Secretariat of League of Arab State & UN Women Office in Abu Dhabi
Celebrating the Right to a Healthy Environment and the UN Human Rights Prize to the Global Coalition
9 October 2023 | 18:00 – 19:30 CEST | Palais des Nations
CIEL, FES, GeCCco, Franciscans International, ICJ, FIAN International, QUNO, Amnesty International, GI-ESCR, Earthjustice, Soka Gakkai International, with the support of GEN
Reports presented at HRC54 relating to the global environmental agenda are listed below. The full list of reports can be consulted on the HRC website.
- A/HRC/54/25 | The toxic impacts of some proposed climate change solutions | SR on human rights and toxics
- A/HRC/54/25/Add.1 | Visit to Ghana | SR on human rights and toxics
- A/HRC/54/25/Add.2 | Visit to International Maritime Organization | SR on human rights and toxics
- A/HRC/54/25/Add.3 | Visit to Paraguay | SR on human rights and toxics
- A/HRC/54/27 | A reinvigorating the right to development: A vision for the future | SR on the right to development
- A/HRC/54/28 | Youth’s representation and participation in international governing bodies: challenges and opportunities | Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order
- A/HRC/54/31 | Green financing – a just transition to protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples | SR on the rights of Indigenous Peoples
- A/HRC/54/31/Add.1 | Visit to Denmark and Greenland | SR on the rights of Indigenous Peoples
- A/HRC/54/31/Add.2 | Visit to Canada | SR on the rights of Indigenous Peoples
- A/HRC/54/32 | Fulfilling the human rights of those living in poverty and restoring the health of aquatic ecosystems: two converging challenges | SR on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation
- A/HRC/54/32/Add.1 | Visit to Tunisia | SR on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation
- A/HRC/54/32/Add.2 | Visit to Peru | SR on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation
- A/HRC/54/38 | Right to development | Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
- A/HRC/54/39 | Rights of Indigenous Peoples | UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
- A/HRC/54/47 | Impact of new technologies intended for climate protection on the enjoyment of human rights | Human Rights Council Advisory Committee
- A/HRC/54/48 | Future of the right to work in connection with climate change actions, responses and impacts in the context of sustainable and inclusive economies | Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Resolutions (found on the HRC54 website) relating to the global environmental agenda adopted at this session are listed here.
- L.11 | Working Group on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas | Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Cuba, Gambia, Kyrgyzstan, Luxembourg, South Africa
- Recognizes the contribution of peasants and other people working and living in rural areas in all regions of the world to development and in ensuring the rights to food, food security, nutrition, and a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.
- Recognizes that peasants and other people working in rural areas are often disproportionately affected by global financial and economic crises, environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, pollution, desertification, and the impact of global climate change, drought and other natural disasters.
- Calls upon the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas.
- Decides to establish, for a period of three years, a working group on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas, consisting of five independent experts, with balanced geographical representation, to be appointed by HRC55.
- L.13 | Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes | Côte d’Ivoire (on behalf of the Group of African States)
- Takes note of the report submitted by the Special Rapporteur at HRC54.
- Decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights.
- Requests the Special Rapporteur to participate in relevant UN and other international forums on issues relevant to the mandate, as appropriate, including in sessions of UN Environment Assembly, the Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, and the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury, and in the sessions of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution including in the marine environment and in the diplomatic conference that may adopt it, in order to mainstream human rights into these discussions.
- L.19 | Rights of Indigenous Peoples | Mexico, Guatemala
- Takes note of general recommendation No. 39 (2022) on the rights of Indigenous women and girls, of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, as well as general comment No. 26 (2023) on children’s rights and the environment, with a special focus on climate change, of the Committee on the Rights of the Child.
- Recognizing further that many ecosystems, including water-based ecosystems, are threatened by poor management and unsustainable development and face increased uncertainty and risks owing to climate change and other factors, and urging States to recognize, respect and promote approaches led by Indigenous Peoples to ecosystem management.
- Decides that the theme of the annual half-day panel discussion on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, to be held during HRC57, will be on laws, policies, judicial decisions and other measures that States have taken to achieve the ends of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
- Requests the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare a stocktaking report compiling existing procedures on the participation of Indigenous Peoples at the UN and highlighting existing gaps and good practices.
- Decides to organize a two-day intersessional meeting before HRC57 and another two-day intersessional meeting before HRC58, to hold a dialogue on concrete ways to enhance the participation of Indigenous Peoples in the work of the Human Rights Council.
- L.27 | Right to development | Azerbaijan (on behalf of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries)
- Takes note of the report of the Special Rapporteur, and requests him to continue to pay particular attention to the implementation of the right to development, which facilitates the full enjoyment of human rights.
- Decides to submit to the General Assembly the legally binding draft international covenant on the right to development annexed to the present resolution (submitted by the Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on the Right to Development), for its consideration, negotiation and subsequent adoption.
- Requests the Special Rapporteur and the members of the Expert Mechanism to participate in relevant international dialogues and policy forums relating to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, including the high-level political forum on sustainable development, financing for development, climate change and disaster risk reduction.
- L.37/Rev.1 | Right to education of all girls in relation to climate change | United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates
- Recognizes that the full realization of the right to education for all is an essential condition for achieving sustainable development and contributes to enhancing the adaptive capacity and resilience of individuals and communities in the face of the adverse effects of climate change and environmental degradation.
- Expresses deep concern that the effects of climate change can impose additional demands and pressures on households where girls are already disproportionately affected, including through ingrained gender inequalities, stereotypes and structural discrimination.
- Further recognizes the critical role of access to at least 12 years of safe, free inclusive and quality education, including informal education, for all girls which increases girls’ agency, autonomy and empowerment and can contribute to their involvement in addressing climate change and other environmental issues.
- Urges States to recognize that discriminatory gender norms deny girls the enjoyment of their right to education, prevent them from fulfilling their leadership potential as agents of change and undermine opportunities to tackle climate change, environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity.
A summary of actions on the resolutions is provided by the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue.
Call for Submissions
The special procedure mandate-holders are independent human rights experts who help advance human rights, by reporting and advancing from a country-specific or thematic perspective, some of which are related to the environment. Calls for submissions are made to help mandate-holders prepare their reports to the Human Rights Council.
18 September 2023 | CEIL, FIAN & FES
Links and Resources
- 54th session of the UN Human Rights Council
- GCHRAGD | Updates on HRC54
- ISHR | HRC54 | Key issues on agenda
- URG | Inside Track: HRC54
- GEN | Human Rights and the Environment
Past HRC Sessions
Environment @ HRC53 | Environment @ HRC52 | Environment @ HRC51 | Environment @ HRC50 | Environment @ HRC49 | Environment @ HRC48 | Environment @ HRC47 | Environment @ HRC46 | Environment @ HRC45 | Environment @ HRC44 | Environment @ HRC43
Who to Follow on Twitter
@UN_HRC | UN Human Rights Council
@BichlerMarc | H.E. Amb. Marc Bichler, Permanent Representative of Luxembourg to the United Nations Office at Geneva, Vice-President of the Human Rights Council in 2023
@mkah | H.E. Amb. Muhammadou M.O Kah, Permanent Representative of the Gambia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, Vice-President of the Human Rights Council in 2023
@Asim_mv | H.E. Amb. Asim Ahmed, Permanent Representative of Maldives to the United Nations Office at Geneva, Vice-President of the Human Rights Council in 2023
@UNHumanRights | The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights)
@volker_turk | UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
@NadaNashif | United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights
@SREnvironment | David Boyd, SR on human rights & the environment
@SRclimatechange | Ian Fry, SR on human rights & climate change
@SRtoxics | Marcos Orellana, SR on toxics and human rights
@RelatorDd | José Francisco Calí Tzay, SR indigenous peoples
@SRWatSan | Pedro Arrojo Agudo, SR on rights to water and sanitation
@MichaelFakhri | Michael Fakhri | SR on right to food
@ISHRglobal | The International Service for Human Rights
@FranciscansIntl | Franciscans International
@Geneva_Academy | Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights
@hrw | Human Rights Watch
@URGthinktank | Universal Rights Group (URG)
@YvesLador | Special Representative of Earthjustice in Geneva
@duycks | Senior Attorney – Climate and Energy Programme at the Center for International Environmental Law
@katha_nina | Katharina Rall, Senior Environment Researcher at Human Rights Watch
@ChildRightsCnct | Child Rights Connect
@CERI_Coalition | Children’s Environmental Rights Initiative (CERI)
@CRINwire | Child Rights International Network